True Secrets of Freemasonry

Those who become Freemasons only for the sake of finding out the secret of the order, run a very great risk of growing old under the trowel without ever realizing their purpose. Yet there is a secret, but it is so inviolable that it has never been confided or whispered to anyone. Those who stop at the outward crust of things imagine that the secret consists in words, in signs, or that the main point of it is to be found only in reaching the highest degree. This is a mistaken view: the man who guesses the secret of Freemasonry, and to know it you must guess it, reaches that point only through long attendance in the lodges, through deep thinking, comparison, and deduction.

He would not trust that secret to his best friend in Freemasonry, because he is aware that if his friend has not found it out, he could not make any use of it after it had been whispered in his ear. No, he keeps his peace, and the secret remains a secret.

Giovanni Giacomo Casanova, Memoirs, Volume 2a, Paris, p. 33

Monday, October 15, 2007

Is the "Traditional Observance" Movement Elitist?

In the interests of full disclosure, I am in the process of forming a European Concept lodge (ECL) that closely follows the "Traditional Observance" format developed by the Masonic Restoration Foundation. I Just wanted to get that out of the way before we started. In the furtherance of full disclosure, hereafter I will use ECL to describe the lodge, as the term “Traditional Observance Lodge” is trademarked by the Masonic Restoration Foundation and has a specific, defined meaning.

First, what IS an ECL? First and foremost, it is an attempt to return to the foundation of Freemasonry as a philosophical and moral society. ECLs have a focus on the initiatic process in all their activities. A deep, contemplative atmosphere is what these lodges strive for in all meetings, often employing darkness, candle rather than electric lighting, music, periods of silence and meditation.

Degree conferrals are also very serious affairs, with strict rules for candidate advancement and participation. Often six moths to a year elapse between degrees, with the candidates encouraged to prepare and present research papers to the brethren as part of the process.

There are differences between the ECL and TO lodge concept, but they are essentially the same in practice, in my opinion. The ECLs are places where ideas can be discussed in a brotherly atmosphere, where learning is promoted, and fellowship fostered.

Is this elitist? I don’t think so, though I can see how a brother from a contemporary blue lodge could feel that way. Most blue lodges, in my experience, have gotten away from education, and gotten away from the contemplative aspects of Freemasonry. This is not a criticism of contemporary Freemasonry, but, rather, is an observation of the state of being.

TO Lodges are formed by Brethren who want a return to the more philosophic aspects of Freemasonry, in a more traditional, somber, and contemplative setting. We're the guys who yearn for what our Mother Lodges promised, but didn't deliver. We want the Masonry of Goethe, Voltaire, Franklin, etc., and recognize that it is tough to find that in the current system.

Elitism has nothing to do with it. TO Masonry isn't for everybody, and we're not out to convert the entire system. It works for those who are looking for traditionalism, formality, and the great, deep teachings we have to offer, that are often overshadowed by fish fries and membership drives. Visit a TO Lodge, if you have one in your area. We are anything but elitist- intellectual, yes. Philosophical, yes. Serious about our Masonry, yes. And we will have you busting a gut laughing by the time the night is over. We're good, honest, funny dudes, and we treat our visitors like kings.

Cult? Nah. If you knew me, you wouldn't even entertain the idea. I'm hypercritical of everything of which I'm a part, and TO has it's problems, like every other Lodge. But it works for us, and the net effect is that Brethren who were ready to leave the Craft out of disappointment now have a home, and are still members. I'm one of those; had I not found my TO Lodge, I would have demitted, entirely, never to return.

…We joined seeking the promise of Freemasonry, the philosophy, the great work, the fellowship with other like minded, good and honorable men.

Dave Mavity, TO Lodge Member

We find lodges focused on moving men through the degrees by making it as easy as possible for them, and of course, loosing the purpose along the way to a certain extent. Masonic philosophy is something a brother is expected to find in the dusty disused books in the lodge library, and education is a pamphlet and the ritual lecture.

Even the memory work, so much a part of the tradition of Freemasonry has been, to a large extent, reduced or eliminated. There are even grand lodges that have instituted programs that are often terms “All the way in a day”. A candidate is brought to a lodge in the morning, and by late afternoon, is often a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason. Exhausted, and having achieved nothing but a certificate, a stack of books, and it is hoped, the will to persevere.

So when a group of brothers comes along, calls for extensive Masonic education, Masonic Formation is what the Grand Lodge of California calls it, and calls for extending the length of time it takes to get from degree to degree, and calls for the ritual to be conferred in a solemn, serious manner, it can be seen as elitist.

The reality is, the movement toward ECLs is a move to the past, to the rich history and tradition that made Freemasonry the great and enduring institution that it has been, and can be again. Men join Freemasonry for a variety of reasons: because their dad, uncle, grandfather, neighbor are Masons, because they met or have seen Masons in the community and formed favorable opinions of them, or to be a part a something greater than themselves.

Regardless of the reason(s) they joined, they deserve to receive all the light that can be conferred upon them in a lodge of master masons. This is not to say or imply that a non ECL is less than any other lodge, because its not true. There are millions of men in the United States today that enjoy their Masonry, as they should.

There are others though, that want… more. As brothers and fellows, we should be glad that they are finding it, and should be ready to lend a hand to them along the way… and maybe, just maybe, we might peek into the ECL lodge to see if there is something there we might want for ourselves.

I was privileged to be invited to Academia Lodge #847, the first chartered Traditional Observance Lodge in the State of California. To say that I was impressed and left breathless would be an understatement. Since that day, I have prepared myself to form an ECL lodge in my district, and was surprised to find the number of brethren that are interested in participating in such a lodge.

Are ECL/TOs elitist? Not at all… but we do want to continue to search for more light, as all brothers and fellows have done, who have gone this way before.

May the blessing of heaven rest upon us and all regular masons. May brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue, cement us!


giovanni lombardo said...

Are TO lodges elitist? In a certain sense, yes, they are. Everything depends on how business is conducted.
If it is conducted at energetic level, man has to carefully choose members. I would say we must guard the West more carefully than we have actually done till now.
This is necessary if we want to preserve lodge's harmony.
Another point regards the candidates' attitudes. TO lodges should avoid to have members with homogeneous culture, because this would be detrimental to a choral development of discussions and, ultimately, to the harmonious growth of the Brethern.
At the utmost I would recommend a long elapse of time between the degrees: mas has to think over the messages he has received and the teaching he was given. As I often say, Nature does not proceed by leaps, so one has to have enough time to internalize what he comes across during lodge's meetings.

Anonymous said...

This is a topic where I have to tread very lightly. I have a very poor opinion of some of those who are heavy hitters in the TO movement, and my opinion is based on my direct experiances. Let me say that I would not trust either of the two "men" to take out my garbage. That being said the T.O. movement is a step in the right direction, but it is also limited via the GL mainstream system.
For an example, in the GL of CA we are limited as to the ritual we use. T.O. lodges charter in this state must still use the same ritual. So you see that the experiance is the same at it's core. Kind of like a Lincoln vs. a Ford. The Lincoln with it's leather seats and burled wood looks a lot nicer, but they are built on the same platform with the same engine.
What I also find interesting is the insistance of more than a few Mainstream zealots is that nothing is wrong nor is there anything wrong with the system. Then we have a "Masonic Restoration Foundation." Well, if there is nothing wrong what are we trying to restore?
It would seem that despite the claims of a few that they "do not care" what the GOdF or other continental lodges may or may not be doing, the way for them to "restore Freemasonry" is to pattern themselves after GOdF and continental practices.

Thank You,
BC 2006

Theron Dunn said...


You really worry me. I begin to think that maybe you do understand freemasonry, then you post something like the above. I know the two guys you speak of, and I would trust them with my wife, my money and my life.

I have worked with one of them on Masonic Formation closely, and I know many of the members of Academia 847, and have for years. Your cavalier dismissal of TO, the difference it can make, and does make, and your cavalier dismissal of the Regular Grand Lodge system shows your prejudice.

You are pathologically unable to say anything good about it, which means you are blind. Its not perfect, but its better than anything I have seen that claims to be better by a long shot.

its not the ritual you use that makes freemasonry wonderous. There are over 80 rituals in use in London alone! Its how you work it, how you live freemasonry, how you form masons that is important.

When you learn that, you will have a glimpse of the glory of what freemasonry, as it is supposed to be LIVED is actually about.

I see that glory, and I live it, every day of my life. I have good brothers and true at my side to help me on my way, and THAT, my brother, is freemasonry.

not the trappings of your lodge or my lodge, regular, irregular, emmulation or Duncan's ritual. Its what we do as masons that define masonry.

Anonymous said...

I can say Brother that it is the actions of evil men like those two I reffered to before that has allowed me to live. They did shed much light in my life, although I am sure that was not their desired result. G.A.O.T.U. works in mysterious ways.

God Bless,
BC 2006

Anonymous said...

Give it up, Brad. You were never told certain things before to spare your feelings and avoid unnecessary confrontation, but since you are carrying this grudge and seeing fit to announce it to everybody you know, I will tell you this: you were "dissed" by #847 for the trouble you were already had in your mother lodge. Suffice to say, the decision to allow you to attend as a FC was up to your W.M. and that is his province.

That, and some "stuff" that came to our W.M. and S.W.'s attention. I had nothing to do with that...

Ok? Does that settle it now?

And not having you over was within our perfect right to do so. End of story, and sorry you are still hurting but that's not my problem either.

Yes, readers, I am one of those evil bastards that "made" BC whatever he is today.

Let's all move on to live another day.

Anonymous said...

We can all tell what a man you are, you can't even sign your anonymous post. You can spin it any wany you want, the fact is you not only lied to my face but that lie got someone else involved and their feelings hurt. I do not know how, as a man of honor that you promote yourself to be you can spin it, but you do.
Anyway, "dissed" or not it all worked out in the end. As a man of my own mind and free will I can partake to give my opinion on the subject and that is what I have decided to do. Sucks when you can't control things, but this one you will just have to deal with.

God Bless,
BC 2006

Anonymous said...

Have a great day.

Anonymous said...

And nobody lied to you--you were told that your WM had to okay your visit. He did not and that was it.

I don't have to spin the truth about why you are in the position you are in. Frankly, after it was over I moved on and you did not.

If someone else got hurt, I cannot help that if he does not bring that to my attention--but I don't see how anybody got hurt. You were not to attend our lodge out of mutual consideration by both Masters.

Not my fault, not my problem and I told you on the onset all you needed to know and all I knew.

But you know what you did more than anybody and that is between you, your lodge and God. And it is up to you to fix that problem, rather than storming off and claiming it was the evil forces of others that made you the man you are today.

Spin it all you want. Be the victim you want to be. You can have your opinion, but I do hope you become better informed on all of the subjects on which you claim an opinion.

Take care and control...

Anonymous said...

Better informned? I was there and I am still in charge of my mental faculties. I will swear to what happened under oath, before God any time.
YOU DID NOT inform me that it would be up to my WM, until everything was set up and a third party brought in. If you would have told me that from the beginning I would not have involved this person. Do not address me like I am stupid. You may be able to B.S. me about some things, but not this.

You either flat out lied, or you "forgot to mention" critical components of the process. When I pointed that out, instead of owning it you pointed the figure at me. Something tells me that was your plan all along, like some type of twisted head game for you.

I know what I did. I know and own any mistakes that I made, but my issues with you have to do with your own devious actions, they have nothing to do with me. You cannot piss on my leg and tell me it's raining. I followed your original instruction to the letter, that was my mistake. Now, I wouldn't trust you as far as I can throw you.

The scorpion and the frog comes to mind.

God Bless,

BC 2006

Anonymous said...

BTW, dismissing your mother lodge's brothers on-line is hardly the actions of an honorable man either. So, you should think about this before publicly calling the W.M. an alcoholic and saying what lodge is involved on a website.

BTW, I'm hardly a "heavy hitter" in the TO movement.

That's all I'm going to say anymore, so please just talk about what you know. In other words, the conversation does not include me.

Anonymous said...

To reiterate since you cannot get it through your skull: I gave you information as it came to me. I never left anything out so let it go.

I am not your enemy. You are your own.

Anonymous said...

You really are twisted to think that I, a man that did not know you, would just play a head game to mess with your mind and "gnosis". You are not that important, BC.

You could not visit because of the BS between you and your lodge, which is why you are still a FC in this jurisdiction. Simple. That is between you and your lodge and that is why the WM of 847 took the position he did and left it up to your WM. Given your poor relationship, the outcome was as it happened.

Anonymous said...

I am not going to muddy up this thread going around and around with you. You where dishonest and what happened happened. I was there, I remember it. Like i said I will testify under oath before God about the events if ever called to do so. At the end of the day it is all good, the experiance taught me a lot. I guess I should thank you.

In the end, is the T.O. movement elitist? Some may feel that way. It depends on what juristiction you are talking about. I know Halcyon is a T.O. lodge, and they are one of the best lodges in the country. Good work begins with good men. Good men are not easy to find.

In the end it is just like anywhere else. Try to make sure you are in a lodge with "Brothers" you can trust, and that is not always as easy as it seems.

Otherwise, watch your back.

God Bless,
BC 2006

Anonymous said...

The road goes both ways...

Anonymous said...

A few of the fake UGLA members are hell bent to destroy everything in their path.

The lies told about Halcyon's membership having full knowledge of a revolution to remove the Lodge from the GLofOH into the non- existent UGLA have been proven to be a smoke screen. Then the truth was revealed only 5 or 6 members had knowledge of the planned rebellion.
Now the cult-like followers of the non-existent UGLA seem to continue disharmony all for what?

Anonymous said...

If you are going to attempt to throw gasoline on the burning bush the least you could do is sign your posts.


BC 2006

Anonymous said...

The last post wasn't by me, B.C. I don't know who that was but you can tell us apart by our distinct use of the English language.

Theron Dunn said...

A few of the fake UGLA members are hell bent to destroy everything in their path.

The lies told about Halcyon's membership having full knowledge of a revolution to remove the Lodge from the GLofOH into the non- existent UGLA have been proven to be a smoke screen. Then the truth was revealed only 5 or 6 members had knowledge of the planned rebellion.
Now the cult-like followers of the non-existent UGLA seem to continue disharmony all for what?

Never read that rumor before. Why repeat it here? What use is it to lay that nonsense out here on a comments section? Please don't waste everyone's time slandering Halcyon Lodge.

PLEASE, the comments section is not for people to slag each other off. Email each other, since you clearly know each other, and settle this instead of muddying up my blog with it please.

Anonymous said...

Agreed and my personal apologies brother.

With that I say to all, if you have problems with your lodge, it is likely you have some part in it. Fix it and don't blame others for failing your personal expectations for help in repairing what you yourself have broken.

If you want to slag me, give me a call and yell at me. Maybe then we can get to the bottom of it and reach a mutually appealing conclusion to your problems.

L'homme Rouge

Anonymous said...

I have no idea who you are.

BC 2006

Anonymous said...

No, you really do not...

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